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SARS-CoV-2 Proteins: Are They Useful as Targets for COVID-19 Drugs and Vaccines?

[ Vol. 22 , Issue. 1 ]


Mohammed Elimam Ahamed Mohammed*   Pages 50 - 66 ( 17 )


The proteins of coronavirus are classified as non-structural, structural, and accessory. There are 16 non-structural viral proteins besides their precursors (1a and 1ab polyproteins). The non-structural proteins are named nsp1 to nsp16, and they act as enzymes, coenzymes, and binding proteins to facilitate the replication, transcription, and translation of the virus. The structural proteins are bound to the RNA in the nucleocapsid (N- protein) or to the lipid bilayer membrane of the viral envelope. The lipid bilayer proteins include the membrane protein (M), an envelope protein (E), and spike protein (S). Besides their role as structural proteins, they are essential for the host cells' binding and invasion. The SARS-CoV-2 contains six accessory proteins which participate in the viral replication, assembly and virus-host interactions. The SARS-CoV-2 accessory proteins are orf3a, orf6, orf7a, orf7b, orf8, and orf10. The functions of the SARS-CoV-2 are not well known, while the functions of their corresponding proteins in SARS-CoV are either well known or poorly studied. Recently, the Oxford University and Astrazeneca, Pfizer and BioNTech have made SARS-CoV-2 vaccines by targeting the spike protein gene. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the health authorities of the United Kingdom have approved and started conducting vaccinations using the Pfizer and BioNTech mRNA vaccine. Also, The FDA of the USA has approved the use of two monoclonal antibodies produced by Regeneron pharmaceuticals to target the spike protein for treating COVID-19. The SARS-CoV-2 proteins can be used for the diagnosis, as drug targets and in vaccination trials for COVID-19. In future COVID-19 research, more efforts should be made to elaborate the functions and structure of the SARS-CoV- 2 proteins so as to use them as targets for COVID-19 drugs and vaccines. Special attention should be paid to extensive research on the SARS-CoV-2 nsp3, orf8, and orf10.


nsp3, spike protein, orf3, orf8, orf10, SARS-CoV.


Department of chemistry, faculty of science, King Khalid University, Abha

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